New Zealanders have been reminded that their personal
information is the price they pay to use social networking
sites as a survey shows nearly 9 out of 10 youngsters use
The UMR privacy survey, released today, shows social
networking use has soared from 14 per cent of the population
in 2007 using Facebook to 54 per cent this year.
But despite an apparent addiction to social networking, New
Zealanders say they are concerned about what happens to the
private information they put on the network.
Seventy-four per cent have changed their Facebook privacy
settings at some stage, up from 66 per cent last year.
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said that change in
behaviour sent a message to internet corporations about
people's expectations of privacy.
"The digital revolution is driving concerns among New
Zealanders,'' Ms Shroff said.
"The survey shows that people are increasingly conscious of
privacy while they're engaging online, so there are some
lessons in here particularly for the internet corporate
Ms Shroff said the 55 per cent of New Zealanders who Facebook
is a "private space'' were naive.
"Facebook itself, and sometimes its business partners, may be
able to use the information you put up there for their own
"There's no such thing as a free lunch _ our information is
the product that the internet giants are using. So it is
slightly risky to assume a social media site is private.''
More than three-fifths of respondents said they were
uncomfortable with Facebook and Google keeping information on
what they have said or done online.
Last year, Facebook's tracking technology landed the social
networker in hot water after an Australian blogger published
data showing it gathered information on the online activities
In response, Facebook promised to fix a "bug'' which meant
logged-out users could be identified as they visited many
other sites on the web.
Netsafe's chief technology officer, Sean Lyons, said even the
amount of information people voluntarily gave Facebook meant
targeted marketing would occur.
"If you think about the amount of information that Facebook
has _ I like this, I've been here, I've travelled to this
place, these are my friends _ there's an awful lot of
information right there.
"We use a product like Facebook that we don't pay for ... it
makes its money from advertising, from sharing with other
people the information that you chose to share with it.''
- Nicholas Jones, New Zealand Herald